Thursday, September 3, 2009

Campus Building to Undergo Asbestos Removal

In Urbana, Illinois, the final four people occupying Lincoln Hall on the University of Illinois campus have been moved out, and the building has been closed to the public. The aging building was constructed back in 1911, and has never had a major overhaul since it was built. According to Jim Spese, project manager of the University of Illinois Facilities and Services department, a $400,000 asbestos abatement project will soon begin at Lincoln Hall.

Further money for the project will come from the Illinois Legislature, which has approved $57.3 million for the budget. However, the money will not be released to the school until it has been signed off on by the governor's office.

The asbestos abatement project will commence within the coming weeks. Asbestos removal is crucial, as asbestos exposure is the leading cause of mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that can manifest in three forms. Peritoneal mesothelioma develops in the lining of the abdomen. Pericardial mesothelioma develops in the lining of the heart. Pleural mesothelioma affects the lining of the lungs. There is no cure for mesothelioma, but many treatment options are available. Asbestos exposure is also linked to other respiratory illnesses, which include COPD, asbestosis, and lung cancer.

Other work on the site prior to the release of the funds will include work on the building's air conditioning system. "Best case scenario, we are hoping we will start construction by the first of December," Spese said.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mesothelioma Claims Life of New Orleans Man

New Orleans resident William Simmons has passed away after battling mesothelioma. Mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer, is linked almost exclusively to asbestos exposure. The disease attacks the body aggressively, and has been known in some cases to kill patient's mere months after being diagnosed.

Simmons was 84, and had lived in New Orleans since the age of 5. Williams was the founder of a multi-million dollar industrial plating business, and it was Simmons' company that plated "the bumpers and all else that could be plated" on Fats Domino's legendary pink Cadillac. He also gold-plated an altar in a New Orleans church.

The business that grew to become Simmons Plating and Grinding Co. was launched with a $75 loan just after World War II. Simmons received the start-up funds from his uncle after his service in the Marine Corps. The New Orleans business grew slowly at first, as Simmons took night classes to learn the trade.

As Simmons furthered his education and received more practical experience, he was able to develop an improved technique of electroplating. He also designed a plating machine and built a coast-to-coast client list that included General Electric and many other companies along the lower Mississippi River and the Gulf Coast.

In his later years, the company developed coatings for rotating equipment such as compressors, turbines and gears. Simmons also served as a trustee of St. Luke's United Methodist Church. He is survived by longtime companion Barbara Ferguson, as well as his sister, Amelia Coghlan of Covington.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Exposure To Volcanic Mineral Associated With Increased Mesothelioma Incidence In Turkey

High exposure to a fibrous volcanic mineral called erionite was associated with a high incidence of a type of cancer called mesothelioma, according to a study in the March 15 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Many cases of environment-related mesothelioma have been reported in the Cappadocia region or Anatolian plateau of Turkey. Blocks of erionite from volcanic tuff have been used in construction, and storage rooms for produce have been cut in the tuff. Past reports have suggested that erionite exposure may increase the risk of mesothelioma, and studies have shown that erionite is associated with a higher risk of cancer development in animals than any other fiber previously tested.

Y. Izzettin Baris, M.D., of Hacettepe University in Ankara, Turkey, and colleagues followed 891 men and women age 20 years and older in three villages in Turkey -- two exposed to erionite, one control -- for 23 years. During this period, 372 deaths occurred, and 119 of these deaths occurred from mesothelioma. This form of cancer mainly affects the lining of the lung and was the cause of 44.5% of all deaths in the two villages with erionite exposure. Only two cases of mesothelioma occurred in the control village, both in people born outside of the control village.

The mortality data were analyzed jointly with Philippe Grandjean, M.D., Ph.D., of the Harvard School of Public Health. When standardized to the world population, the annual incidence of pleural mesothelioma in the two exposed villages was 200 and 700 cases per 100,000 people annually, compared to a rate of 10 cases per 100,000 people each year in the control village. The authors conclude that the long-term exposure to erionite is the cause of the exceedingly high risk of developing mesothelioma.

"Our results emphasize the severity of the mesothelioma endemic in erionite-exposed areas of Turkey," the authors write. They add, "In the rural part of central Anatolia, Turkey, millions of inhibitants are likely exposed to hazardous amounts of mineral fibers from the environment. Resources should therefore be directed to preventing these environmental exposures and additional study of the association between environmental exposure to nonasbestos fibers and the risk of cancer."

Citation: Baris YI and Grandjean P. Prospective Study of Mesothelioma Mortality in Turkish Villages With Exposure to Fibrous Zeolite. J Natl Cancer Inst 2006; 98: 414-417.

The Journal of the National Cancer Institute is published by Oxford University Press and is not affiliated with the National Cancer Institute.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mouse Model For Mesothelioma Reproduces Human Disease

Scientists have established a mouse model for human malignant mesothelioma that will provide valuable insight into cancer development and progression along with new directions for design of therapeutic strategies. The research, published by Cell Press in the March issue of Cancer Cell, may eventually lead to a substantially improved outlook for patients with this devastating disease.

Malignant mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer originating from the mesothelial lining of the pleural cavity. Malignant mesothelioma is associated with asbestos exposure and is characterized by a long latency period between exposure and disease onset. Chemotherapy can sometimes lead to improvement of overall survival but there is no cure for malignant mesothelioma and patients often succumb from the disease within a year of diagnosis. "There is an urgent need for experimental models of malignant mesothelioma that can be used to not only study the onset and progression of the disease, but also to serve as a model to select new combination therapies and targeted agents," says study leader, Dr. Anton Berns, from The Netherlands Cancer Institute.

In humans, malignant mesothelioma has been associated with genetic lesions that result in the loss of Neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) and genetic lesions affecting RB and P53 pathways. Dr. Berns' team investigated whether a range of conditional single or compound mutations in the Nf2, p53 and Rb pathways within the mesothelial lining of the thoracic cavity would cause malignant mesothelioma in mice.

The researchers found that the vast majority of mice with conditional Nf2;Ink4a/Arf and Nf2;p53 mutations developed MM after a short latency period. The mouse malignant mesothelioma tumors, which could be followed noninvasively through the use of bioluminescence imaging, closely resembled human MM. Interestingly, Nf2;Ink4a/Arf knockout mice had a more invasive cancer when compared with Nf2;p53 knockout mice. The researchers went on to show that the loss of Ink4a makes a substantial contribution to the poor clinical outcome of murine malignant mesothelioma .

These results describe an excellent model system for investigating the molecular mechanisms that underlie malignant mesothelioma . "Our mouse models should be suitable to further dissect pathways critically important in mesothelioma development and progression and serve as invaluable tools to test new intervention strategies," concludes Dr. Berns. "We have also derived a series of cell lines that reproduce the disease when grafted into the thoracic cavity. These may also facilitate design of better MM therapies."

The researchers include Johan Jongsma, Erwin van Montfort, Marc Vooijs, John Zevenhoven, Paul Krimpenfort, Martin van der Valk, Marc van de Vijver, and Anton Berns, of The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Journal reference: Berns et al.: "A Conditional Mouse Model for Malignant Mesothelioma". Cancer Cell, Vol 13, 261-271, 11 March 2008.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Mesothelioma: Chemo Combination Improves Survival In Asbestos-related Cancer

People with mesothelioma -- a form of cancer associated with asbestos exposure -- have a higher survival rate when treated with a combination of two cancer drugs, a large multicenter study finds.

Mesothelioma, a rare but aggressive form of cancer that occurs in the lining of the lungs, heart and abdomen, is associated with exposure to asbestos. There is no known cure.

In the study, patients receiving pemetrexed and cisplatin -- along with the vitamin supplements folic acid and B12 -- survived nearly three months longer than patients getting cisplatin alone.

Researchers led by John Green, M.D., at the Clatterbridge Center for Oncology in England, reviewed a study of 448 patients with advanced mesothelioma who were treated with either the single drug or the combination.

"Pemetrexed used in combination with cisplatin significantly increases the length of survival, when compared with cisplatin alone," the researchers say. "Further research is needed into the optimum treatment regimen for pleural mesothelioma."

The review appears in the current issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research. Systematic reviews draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing medical trials on a topic.

The researchers examined data from a clinical trial of 20 treatment centers in Europe, the Americas, Australia and Asia. Eighty-one percent of the patients were men, with an average age of 61. Patients who received the combination treatment survived an average 2.8 months longer.

Patients receiving both medications also reported improved quality of life in terms of fatigue, loss of appetite, pain and cough.

During the early stages of the trial, patients receiving pemetrexed had serious symptoms of toxicity, including drug-related death. Other side effects included blood cell abnormalities, nausea and diarrhea, which decreased in both incidence and severity after the vitamins were added to the treatment. People who work trades such as shipbuilding, railway engineering, construction work and asbestos manufacture have higher rates of mesothelioma than the general public. The cancer may take 10 to 60 years to develop, and the risk does not diminish after exposure to asbestos has stopped. Family members of people exposed to asbestos at work also have an increased risk of developing mesothelioma from asbestos fibers carried home on the clothes of the people they live with.

Daniel Baram, M.D., a pulmonologist at the Lung Cancer Evaluation Center at the State University of New York, said, "Most cases [of mesothelioma] are still from pre-OSHA workplace improvements. I suspect that modern asbestos abatement precautions will avoid most, if not all, future cases. The latency is over 30 years, so we are still diagnosing cases with exposure during World War II and the '40s and '50s."

Mesothelioma is difficult to diagnose, Green said, because "there is a lag of many years between exposure and asbestosis, which is a nonmalignant condition, and a greater lag before the development of overt malignancy."

"There is no way of diagnosing the premalignant phase during the latent period of 15 to 20 years," Green added. "Many of these patients smoke and are in economically disadvantaged communities. Many individuals have moved away from heavy industries and may not admit or know they were exposed to asbestos as young men, with similar issues for their partners."

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 10 percent to 15 percent of schools and other public buildings in the United States contain asbestos insulation.

Although safety measures for working with asbestos have been in place since the 1970s, mesothelioma is projected to account for 65,000 deaths between 2001 and 2050 worldwide, peaking between 2012 and 2015, according to background information in the review.

It is a personal matter as to whether the survival increase for patients receiving the two drugs is worthwhile, Baram said. "It depends in large part on the patient. A 2.8-month mean survival increase means that some patients may get even more than that, though some people will get less. Many, if not most, patients when faced with a disease with a very bad prognosis are often willing to undergo aggressive therapy, although the toxicity is serious and potentially life-threatening."

Green J, et al. Pemetrexed disodium in combination with cisplatin versus other cytotoxic agents or supportive care for the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007, Issue 1.

The Cochrane Collaboration is an international nonprofit, independent organization that produces and disseminates systematic reviews of health care interventions and promotes the search for evidence in the form of clinical trials and other studies of interventions. Visit for more information.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Gene Expression Ratio Test Predicts Outcome In Mesothelioma Patients Treated With Surgery

ScienceDaily (Apr. 28, 2009) — A four-gene expression ratio test prospectively distinguished mesothelioma patients who had a statistically significant longer overall survival from those who had shorter survival in a single-institution study.

There are few effective treatment options available for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma other than surgery. However, not all patients appear to derive benefit from surgery. Raphael Bueno, M.D., of the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and colleagues showed in retrospective studies that measuring expression ratios of four genes could distinguish between those who have a good prognosis after surgery and those who have a poor prognosis.

In the current study, Bueno and colleagues tested the four-gene expression ratio test in 120 patients with mesothelioma who were treated at Brigham and Women's Hospital and participated in a prospective clinical trial. To evaluate the robustness and reproducibility of the test, the researchers evaluated the test on multiple tumor samples from each patient and used two different microarray platforms and two different biopsy techniques.

The test was able to predict overall survival after adjusting for other clinical factors. The test results were consistent for individual patients regardless of the techniques used for the test. When the researchers combined the gene ratio test results with known prognostic factors, they were able to separate patients into high-risk and low-risk groups. The median survival for patients in the high-risk group was 6.9 months compared with 31.9 months in the low-risk group.

"Patients whose gene ratio test results predict a good prognosis after surgery may more confidently select the treatment option that includes surgery," the authors write.

This research was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute on April 28, 2009.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mesothelioma Takes the Life of Michigan Teacher

Joe Hoffer of Holland, Michigan passed away after battling mesothelioma. He was 61. Hoffer passed away on Monday, and his passing is being mourned by members of the educational community, former students, and his family. He is survived by his wife, Marilyn Lugers Hoffer; three children, Jennifer, Katie, and Michael, and three grandchildren. Hoffer was a former board president for Holland Public Schools and the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District.

Hoffer is remembered as an educator who was passionate about helping students who struggled in school. OAISD Superintendent Karen McPhee remembers: "Joe always demonstrated a special place in his heart for students who struggled and students who needed some alternatives to how they were going to find success," McPhee said. "Joe was one of the good guys who cared deeply about people, personally and professionally. His soft spot was for students who, for whatever reason, needed non-traditional ways to earn a diploma, which he believed were so important."

According to school board member Kevin Clark, Hoffer has left behind a legacy. "On the board, he was kind of a story teller, and it was a great style," Clark said. "He was a good leader. He cared deeply for the school district and kids. It doesn't get any better than that. His fingerprints are still all over Holland Public Schools."

Hoffer blamed his mesothelioma on exposure to asbestos. Hoffer believed he had been exposed to asbestos during a summer job in a furnace factory while he was still in college. Mesothelioma has a latency period of several decades, meaning that it the symptoms of mesothelioma may not develop until half a lifetime has passed since the patient's initial exposure to asbestos.

Memorial donations can be made to International Mesothelioma Program, 75 Francis St., Boston, MA, 02115.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

5 Questions About Mesothelioma Answered

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that often forms as the result of asbestos exposure over an extended period of time.

It is important to be informed about mesothelioma to prevent this oftentimes fatal cancer from affecting you and your loved ones.

The following 5 questions are ones that everyone should ask in regards to mesothelioma, and answers that are beneficial to read.

What is Mesothelium?

The mesothelium is the membrane that covers the internal organs of the body and protects them from becoming harmed in any way.

The mesothelium contains two layers; the first one surrounds the organ while the other forms a sac around it. A fluid is released by the mesothelium between the layers, which enables organs, like the heart and lungs, to move easily around nearby structures in the body.

What Risks are Associated with Mesothelioma?

About 70 to 80 percent of mesothelioma cases are due to the exposure of asbestos in humans.

Asbestos is a group of minerals that forms into fibers and is often found in industrial products like cement, brake linings, flooring products and insulation.

Inhaling or swallowing asbestos particles, which typically float in the air, can increase lung cancer risks and other cancers, as well as be detrimental to the mesothelioma.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, (OSHA), has set limits for asbestos in the workplace because of its severe health risks.

What are Symptoms of Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma can oftentimes not develop until 30 to 50 years after exposure but there are some obvious signs that those at risk should be aware of, including:
· Shortness of breath and chest pain
· Weight loss
· Abdominal pain
· Fever
· Trouble swallowing and swelling around the neck

How is Mesothelioma Treated?

Depending on the stage of the cancer and area in which its located, different treatments can be initiated, such as:
· Surgery- Doctors can remove the part of the lining in the chest or abdomen that is effected by the cancerous cells
· Radiation Therapy- High-energy rays can kill cancer and shrink any tumors that have formed
· Chemotherapy- This treatment can help to kill and reduce the amount of cancerous cells in the body

Are There New Treatments to Cure Mesothelioma Being Studied?

Although Mesothelioma is difficult to control, the National Cancer Institute, (NC), is constantly holding clinical trials that help in designing new treatments and are beneficial to research.

Participation in these trials is important for patients suffering from this unique cancer.

FDA Approves Alimta for Treatment of Lung Cancer

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that the drug Alimta® (also known as pemetrexed) has been approved for preventing the progression of certain types of advanced or metastatic lung cancer, or nonsquamous, non-small cell lung cancer. Alimta® is newly-approved for lung cancer patients who have tumors that have been shrunken, or whose cancer has stabilized after treatments of chemotherapy.

Alimta® was originally approved by the FDA in 2004 for the treatment of mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that is linked almost exclusively to exposure to asbestos. Asbestos fibers, once inhaled, become permanently embedded and are impossible to remove. Asbestos inhalation is linked to mesothelioma, COPD, asbestosis, and lung cancer.

Alimta® works by limiting the ability of tumors to absorb the B-vitamin folate, which the tumor needs to survive. Alimta® is also approved for use as an initial therapy for advanced non-small cell lung cancer. The FDA warns that the drug does have some possible side effects, which include blood cell damage, fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, extremity numbness, and rashes. The drug is manufactured by the Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co.

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer. Subtypes of NSCLC include adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and large cell carcinoma. Other treatment options include chemotherapy. Alimta® is the first drug to be approved as maintenance therapy for advanced NSCLC.

A number of leading oncologists, including Dr. David Sugarbaker of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Massachusetts, often administer a combination of Alimta® and a second cancer-fighting drug know as Cisplatin when treating patients with mesothelioma.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mesothelioma community rallies to raise awareness

More than 230 people gathered in Washington, D.C., last week to attend the 6th Annual International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma, presented by the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. This was the largest attendance to date for the event, and 170 of that number also participated in Advocacy Day events, visiting their Congressional delegates on Capitol Hill.

This annual symposium is “for everybody” affected by mesothelioma. This includes patients, caregivers and family members, and those who have lost a loved one to mesothelioma, as well as advocates and scientific and medical experts. The event is designed to provide education about new research and treatment, to assist meso patients and their families and loved ones with coping skills and a network of support, and provide advocates with the tools to help make an impact in the effort to raise awareness about mesothelioma and the dangers of asbestos exposure, and to raise funds for research.

“I don’t think any community knows more about holding onto hope in the midst of difficult circumstances than mesothelioma patients and their families, ” said MARF executive director Chris Hahn. “But there is still a perception of mesothelioma as an orphan disease. It is overlooked, by the government, by the average person, despite the huge presence of asbestos in our society,” he said.

Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer that affects the lining of the chest wall or, more rarely, the abdomen, and, in very rare instances, the heart. It is caused by exposure to asbestos, and may have a latency period of up to 40 years or more from the time of exposure until symptoms manifest. It is difficult to diagnose, and often is misdiagnosed until too late for effective treatment. Even if diagnosed early, treatment is often difficult, and there is currently no known cure.

The Mesothelioma Applied Reserach Foundation is the largest independent program for mesothelioma reserach and support in the world. It operates a competitive grant program that awards up to 10 grants, or $10 million, each year to research projects most likely to lead to better treatment.

The Foundation is a non-profit organization whose main mission is dedicated to “eradicating the life-ending and vicious effects of mesothelioma.”

MARF needs funding. This is the only organization dedicated to the research and treatment of mesothelioma, but it is facing the same struggles that many other charitable foundations are facing in this tough economy - donations are down, funding is stretched thin. The foundation received 59 grant applications in 2008 - programs that WANT to explore and investigate mesothelioma in search of earlier diagnosis, better treatment methods and, ultimately a cure. But the Foundation was only able to fund five new programs in 2008.

It is estimated that 3,300 new cases of mesothelioma will be diagnosed each year.

Mesothelioma, once considered an industrial disease affecting primarily older men, is being diagnosed in younger and younger people. In 2008, a 3-year-old girl was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is everybody’s problem. We cannot afford NOT to support mesothelioma research.

For more information about the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation and how to make a donation, visit them online.

The Foundation also needs volunteers. There are a number of ways you can help, from advocacy efforts to planning a fund-raising event, to simply helping put out the word about mesothelioma and the effects of asbestos exposure. You can find that information on their web site, too.

This was my first experience at the Symposium, and it was emotionally and intellectually exhausting, and inspiring, and motivating. I met some amazing people who, despite being personally devestated by mesothelioma, are determined to keep fighting. I’m amazed by this great group of folks.

I plan to add many more stories from information presented at the conference, and from the people I met there, in the next several days, so please check back! It’s too much to tell in one post!

Asking for support of mesothelioma funding

Today was busy with meetings at Capitol Hill, asking legislators to support a total ban of asbestos in the United States, funding for mesothelioma research, and that they designate September 26 as Mesothelioma Awareness Day.

The day began with a briefing from Chris Hahn, the executive director of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF), with latest numbers about federal funding for meso research (WAY below every other cancer) and information about goals for new legislation. A bill to ban asbestos and fund meso research has been before the Senate for the past SEVEN YEARS. In 2008, S774, more commonly known as the Bruce Vento Ban Asbestos and Prevent Mesothelioma Act, passed the Senate, and in 2008 its companion, HR3339/6903, made it to committee in the House of Representatives, but never made it to the floor. It died in committee when the session ended and we now have to start all over.

Beginning at 11 a.m., I met with aides from Congressman Bobby Bright’s office, as well as the offices of Senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions. I was disappointed that I was unable to meet with any of the legislators personally, but two of the aides were particularly enthusiastic about our efforts, and the third was amenable, so I have high hopes. Now I will simply begin to pester people until we finally see some legislation! I left copies of our petition in support of these efforts with each of the Congressional offices, so I hope they will listen to our voices!

Tomorrow the sixth annual International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma will address the latest topics in mesothelioma research and treatment. 170 people attended the Advocacy Day today, and 230 people will attend the conference tomorrow and Saturday, the largest number yet.

Chris Hahn told us, “The way that we’re going to cure this disease is through community. On Advocacy Day, each person’s voice makes a real difference, and each of you speak for hundreds who could not be here.”

I hope our legislature is listening.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Jury Finds Chrysotile Asbestos Causes Rare Peritoneal Mesothelioma

A jury awarded over $1.9 million to a 71-year-old retired sheet metal worker, Genaro Garcia, who developed peritoneal mesothelioma from his prior on-the-job exposure to asbestos (Genaro Garcia and Dalia Garcia v. Duro Dyne Corporation, SF Superior Court, #418098). Peritoneal mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer that first attacks the membranes lining the stomach. This fatal disease is almost always caused by asbestos exposure.

The defendant, Duro Dyne Corporation, is a former manufacturer and distributor of asbestos-containing flex HVAC duct connectors and duct sealer used for sheet metal duct connections. Mr. Garcia worked with Duro Dyne Corporation's asbestos-containing sheet metal products throughout his 48-year career, but was never advised to wear any form of respiratory protection. Experts testified that he was exposed to hazardous levels of asbestos, and that each exposure was a substantial factor that contributed to his risk of developing an asbestos-related disease.

Mr. Garcia learned that he had peritoneal mesothelioma in late 2002. After over two years of treatment with chemotherapy, including Alimta®, his cancer is currently in a temporary state of remission. Mr. Garcia traveled with his wife by car from Whittier, California, to testify at the San Francisco trial. He was unable to travel by plane due to the severe side effects of his chemotherapy regime.

The verdict against Duro Dyne Corporation consisted of $325,369 for past and future medical expenses, $530,250 for lost earning capacity, and $1.05 million in non-economic damages. Non-economic damages included $300,000 to Mrs. Garcia for loss of consortium.

"We are grateful that the jury rejected the defense claims that chrysotile asbestos does not cause all mesothelioma, including peritoneal, and that Mr. Garcia is somehow cured of this terrible and entirely preventable disease. Only in a courtroom would you hear such things," said Mr. Garcia's attorney, Gilbert Purcell, after the verdict.

Gilbert Purcell and Crystal Howard of Brayton Purcell in Novato, California, represented plaintiffs Genaro and Delia Garcia at trial. Duro Dyne Corporation was represented at trial by James Sinunu and Thomas Trapani of Adams Nye Sinunu Bruni Becht LLP of San Francisco, CA.

About Brayton Purcell
For over 20 years, Brayton Purcell has helped clients protect their legal rights in the face of devastating losses such as illness, injuries, and harm to family members. The law firm enjoys a national reputation for the high quality of its personal injury and product liability work, particularly in the area of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancers. For more information, call 415-898-1555 or visit our firm web site at For mesothelioma legal and medical news as well as information about mesothelioma diagnosis and treatment, see our specialty web site, Mesothelioma Network, at

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Skydive Raised Funds for Mesothelioma Research

A pair of siblings from the UK has organized a charity skydiving event in memory of their father, who passed away from mesothelioma. Bill Rawlinson died in October of 2007 after a struggle with pleural mesothelioma, caused by exposure to asbestos. He was 64. Now his children Paul and Claire have honored his memory by skydiving to raise money for the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma research fund.

The Mick Knighton Mesothelioma research fund is an organization dedicated to raising money for mesothelioma research. The organization also hopes to raise awareness about the rare cancer, and provides support to sufferers and their families. Mesothelioma is a cancer that aggressively attacks the body. It is so aggressive that it is not uncommon for sufferers to die mere months after being diagnosed. Asbestos exposure is the most common cause of mesothelioma, and can also cause lung cancer and asbestosis.

In the UK, the rates of mesothelioma cancer are a bit higher than here in the US, where approximately 2,500 individuals are diagnosed with the disease annually.

According to Paul, he did not come up with the idea. "It was my sister's idea to do a skydive...She's not really one to take part in extreme sports, but she wanted to do something out of the ordinary to show how committed we are." The siblings completed their dive on June 20th. Paul completed a solo jump with a static line parachute from 3,500 feet in the air. His sister Claire took on a tandem jump from a height of 14,000 feet. The brother and sister team hope to raise 2,000 (about $3,300 in US currency).

Mesothelioma activists from around the world can support Paul and Claire's efforts. Donations for the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma research fund in memory of Bill Rawlinson can still be made online by visiting

In the US, a number of oncologists who specialize in studying and treating mesothelioma cancer, including Stephen Yang, MD of the Johns Hopkins Division of Thoracic Surgery continue to push for a cure for this fatal disease.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Strong Against Proposed Asbestos Mesothelioma Legislation today announced its dissenting opinion on the recent asbestos bill soon to come before congress. has reviewed the recent asbestos bill proposed by Sen. Arlen Spector and Sen. Patrick Leahy (news, bio, voting record) and has come out strongly against the proposed bill. We believe the bill is unworkable, under-funded, and unconstitutional.

While legislation proposed in Washington, D.C., by Pennsylvania Senator, Arlen Specter, on its face seems to allay a number of issues regarding litigation over asbestos-related disease, the Asbestos Bill actually raises impossible hurdles for victims and bails out politically well-connected corporations.

Senator Specter acknowledges that he can't pass a 'perfect' bill, but offers little solace to the mesothelioma victims who'll die before they see any help from the fundamentally flawed asbestos bailout bill approved by the Judiciary Committee.

Every major asbestos victims' organization opposes this bill, while being supported by the corporate defendants who knowingly poisoned their workers and the public with asbestos and would receive billions of dollars in liability relief.

A few of the fundamental problems with the fund include:

  • The fund is under-funded by at least $16 billion (according to the CBO) and possibly as much as $49 billion (analysis by asbestos claims expert Mark Peterson) or even $100 billion (Environmental Working Group). Bankruptcy of the fund and taxpayer bailout is likely.
  • Every single similar government trust fund has failed.
  • In its current form the fund will immediately be mired in litigation from existing asbestos trusts, insurance companies, small businesses, and the thousands of victims unfairly excluded from the fund.
  • By moving all pending claims into the fund, the fund is guaranteed to have a huge backlog at startup.
  • Victims with community exposure and 9/11 victims - even firefighters, police, and emergency workers - are barred from receiving any compensation. The disparity between their treatment and the treatment of similar victims in Libby, Montana is likely unconstitutional.
  • There is no real sunset process for victims to return to the courts when the fund becomes bankrupt.
  • While treating unfairly or shutting out those poisoned by asbestos, the companies that poisoned them are rewarded with a multi-billion dollar bailout. plans to inform its readers on the progress of the bill in the senate and the house, throughout the month of January. More information about the bill can be found at . Call your local Senator or Congressman and let them know you oppose bill S.852.

Phase III Clinical Trial on Pleural Mesothelioma

Emory Winship Cancer Institute will be one of two facilities in Georgia to conduct a phase III clinical trial of Vorinostat (oral suberoylanilide hydromaxic acid) in patients with advanced cancerous pleural mesothelioma. The purpose of the study is to test the safety and efficacy of Vorinostat as well as to compare the overall survival associated with therapy of the drug.

A rare but devastating disease, it is estimated that 2,000 to 3,000 new mesothelioma cases will be diagnosed each year in the United States. Mesothelioma is cancer of the cells found in the mesothelium, which is the protective lining covering most of the internal organs of the body. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of mesothelioma, and it is identified by the presence of malignant cells located in the tissue outside of the lungs and inside of the ribs.

Vorinostat is an experimental drug that is believed to work against cancer cells. When cells become malignant, chemical reactions inside the cancer cell allow those cells to multiply out of control. Vorinostat may stop the growth of tumor cells by blocking some of the enzymes needed for cell growth.

The principal investigator on the Vorinostat clinical trial at Winship is Dong M. Shin, MD, Professor of Hematology/Oncology and Otolaryngology; Director of Clinical and Translational Cancer Prevention Programs; and Co-Director of the Lung and Aerodigestive Tract Malignancies Program at Emory Winship Cancer Institute. Dr. Shin joined Winship in 2003 after more than 15 years as a faculty member at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

"This is a very important study for this terrible disease," said Dr. Shin. "As a second line treatment, there are currently no options other than this clinical trial."

Eligibility for the Vorinostat clinical trial requires a diagnosis of unidimensionally measurable cancerous pleural mesothelioma, which has progressed or relapsed following therapy with pemetrexed in combination with either Cisplastin or Carboplatin.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Second International Mesothelioma Symposium

Fresh evidence of progress in the diagnosis and treatment of an aggressive asbestos-related cancer was the highlight of the Second International Symposium on Cancerous Mesothelioma last week. Long considered lethal, meso is a tumor that invades the linings of the lungs, abdomen, heart or testicles. The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF) organizes the annual symposium, held this year in Las Vegas Nevada, to unite the meso community and focus on curing the disease.

Advances in detection, multimodal treatment, gene therapy, and immunotherapy were among the topics that thrilled the audience. Ann Ferrero, whose mother was diagnosed with meso a year ago, admitted that "Last year my entire family reeled from the shock." The information presented at the symposium, however, left her feeling -- in her own words, "moved, grateful . and, dare I say . hopeful!".

The symposium is unique in that it brings together doctors, scientists, advocates, meso patients and families to learn from each other and exchange research results, study findings, and review progress. MARF Director of Communications, and 4 year pleural meso survivor, Klaus Brauch, stated that "the most important sign of progress for me was that we are now talking about second-line treatments, something of great interest to those of us concerned about recurrences. A few years ago just surviving first-line treatment was an achievement." MARF, which has awarded over two million dollars of meso research funding, continues to be the only independent non-profit organization actively working to eradicate meso as a life-ending disease.

Attendees were able to meet and ask questions of some of the world's leading meso experts. Ferrero commented that "the ability to interact with the medical community on such an informal level was unique. I came back with several leads for my mom." In addition, over thirty meso patients, including numerous long-term survivors, were in attendance. Ferrero found meeting them to be "uplifting," and when she met the dedicated staff of MARF she found them to be "clearly devoted to curing this disease.".

The symposium also featured presentation of the Pioneer Award, an award MARF introduced this year to honor companies that have made substantial contributions to the field of meso research. Alfacell CEO Kuslima Shogen, one of the recipients, stated that "it is a great honor to receive one of the first MARF Pioneer Awards," and promised to "continue to work with [MARF] on the mission to find a cure." Other companies recognized with the Pioneer Award were Eli Lilly, Merck, Biogen Idec, Fujirebio Diagnostics, Genentech and Novartis.

MARF also held a poignant tribute ceremony dedicated to the lives and memory of meso patients lost to the cancer. Against the backdrop of a huge memorial wall, the names of the deceased were read by loved ones and candles were lit to commemorate their lives and their presence in spirit with the mission to cure the disease. Break out sessions for care givers, for patients, and for the bereaved allowed each one to focus on the specific needs of their group and exchange concerns in a safe and nurturing environment.

This year's winner of MARF's annual "Congressman Bruce Vento Hope Builder Award" was none other than the founder of MARF, Roger Worthington, without whose vision and hard work over the last six years neither MARF nor this unique symposium would exist. The awarded was presented by MARF Board of Directors member Susan Vento. Her husband, Minnesota congressman Bruce Vento -- who died from meso in 2000, was beloved for his work to build hope for overlooked communities. Worthington was honored for working, in much the same way, to create hope for the overlooked community of meso patients and those at risk by focusing on the need for effective treatments. The gala reception featured a stirring performance by recording artist Jordan Zevon, whose father, musician and composer Warren Zevon, died of mesothelioma in 2003.

The symposium was made possible through the generosity of financial supporters Eli Lilly, Simmons Cooper, Waters and Kraus, Stanley, Mandel and Iola, Bergman and Frockt, The David Law Firm, Merck, Alfacell Corporation, and Fujirebio Diagnostics. Attendees, whether patients, doctors, caregivers or industry executives, were all moved by the tributes, inspired by the presentations and energized by the resolve of presenters, the organizers and the audience to continue to fight for a cure for this terrible cancer. Planning for next year's symposium is already underway, and details should be announced soon.

Asbestos Link From Welding Rods To Mesothelioma

This case has been pending in New York State appeals court for some time, but on Dec. 29th in a first-ever jury finding that asbestos-containing welding rods, sold in the billions up to the early 1980's, had caused lung cancer and mesothelioma. Attorney Jerome H. Block of the nationally known mass toxic tort law firm of Levy Phillips and Konigsberg has recently made this announcement.

This New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First, upheld the July 2003 jury verdict in favor of, Angel Gomez, who died following the trial, and the late Daniel Tucker. Both men worked with and around asbestos-containing welding rods. The jury awarded Gomez a total of approximately $3.19 million against Lincoln Electric Company. Jury however, reduced 25 percent of the compensation percent since Gomez was a cigarette smoker. Tucker's estate was awarded a total of approximately $3.5 million split between Lincoln and Hobart Brothers Company.

The welding rods at issue in the Gomez and Tucker cases continue to be a top-selling, all-purpose welding rod. Up to the early part of 1980s, these rods were coated with a mixture containing 5% to 15% asbestos, according to trial testimony.

What are the risk factors for mesothelioma?

Working with asbestos is the major risk factor for mesothelioma. A history of asbestos exposure at work is reported in about 70 percent to 80 percent of all cases. However, mesothelioma has been reported in some individuals without any known exposure to asbestos. History of exposure to various other chemicals have been found in some of these patients, but majority of these patients have no understandable risk factors for mesothelioma.

Asbestos is the name of a group of minerals that occur naturally as masses of strong, flexible fibers that can be separated into thin threads and woven. Asbestos has been widely used in many industrial products, including cement, brake linings, roof shingles, flooring products, textiles, and insulation. If tiny asbestos particles float in the air, especially during the manufacturing process, they may be inhaled or swallowed, and can cause serious health problems. In addition to mesothelioma, exposure to asbestos increases the risk of lung cancer, asbestosis (a non-cancerous, chronic lung ailment), and other cancers, such as those of the larynx and kidney.

Smoking does not appear to increase the risk of mesothelioma. However, the combination of smoking and asbestos exposure significantly increases a person's risk of developing lung cancer and cancers of many other areas of the body including the air passage areas.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Targeting Mesothelioma

There is exciting news for patients with mesothelioma in the making. Two pharmaceutical companies have started a clinical phase II clinical trial to test the efficacy and activity of a new drug in mesothelioma. This new drug is named as PXD101. This is a small molecule histone deacetylase inhibitor.

National Cancer Institute is sponsoring the current clinical trial with CuraGen. Those who are having a diagnosis of mesothelioma, which is not removable by surgery and who have failed at least one line of chemotherapy are eligible for the clinical trial. The drug PXD101 is given by intravenous infusion once every three weeks.

The researchers are trying to determine if the drug PXD101 has any significant activity on mesothelioma in terms of clinical response. The study is also aimed at determining the safety of the drug and time to treatment failure. The study would also look for any survival advantage resulting from the use of the drug.

Researchers are planning to enroll a total of 37 patients at different sites across the United States.

Histone deacetylase inhibitors have the ability to down-regulate genes such as BCL-XL and VEGF and up-regulate cell-cycle regulating genes, including p21. Researchers say that they are excited to begin the trial and would evaluate PXD101 as a potential treatment for mesothelioma.

Sadly, there are no proven therapies available for patients who have progressed on the first line chemotherapy. PXD101 is expected to take this vacant position in the treatment algorithm.

Links Between Taconite And Mesothelioma

The Minnesota Department of Health is launching two major studies to answer long-simmering questions about taconite and human health.

The agency says men in northeastern Minnesota have twice the expected rate of a rare form of cancer called mesothelioma.

It's caused by asbestos, but the Health Department wants to find out whether it can also be caused by fibers in the taconite on the Iron Range.

Duluth, Minn. - Mining, and processing taconite, are dirty, dusty jobs. It's hard to avoid breathing the dust from the taconite, which is crushed to the consistency of talcum powder. And asbestos is still used in some older furnaces and other equipment.

Jim Kelly retired three years ago from the Northshore mine at Silver Bay. He has a spot on one lung that's probably a precursor to asbestosis. It's a disease that causes shortness of breath and chronic coughing, and indicates an increased risk of lung cancer.

But he's not about to blame taconite for that. He worked in other industries, and was exposed to asbestos on several jobs. He's heard claims about the dangers of taconite for 30 years, and he doesn't think they're based on much.

"It appears to me that the scientific community and the medical community cannot come to agreement on what is the specific hazard here," he says. "At least I have to date never heard anything specific."

Now the Minnesota Department of Health is going to try to find the answers.

Carbon Nanotubes Could Have Asbestos-Like Health Complications

A recent laboratory study has shed new light on the possibility of a nexus between carbon nanotube exposure and the asbestos-like health effects.

Carbon nanotubes are molecular-level structures that are now being used in thousands of products from tennis rackets and hair dryers to computer chips and electronics. They are renowned for their unparalleled strength and remarkably low mass, and were seen by a number of as the next frontier of product durability.

The study, which involved laboratory mice, indicated that upon introduction into the lower abdomen, nanotubes had virtually identical effects as asbestos fibers. When inhaled or ingested, asbestos fibers will become lodged in the pleural lining of the body's internal organs.

Over time, these fibers cause a sustained inflammation of the internal tissue. This inflammation is usually linked to the beginning stages of asbestosis and mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer now only attributed to asbestos exposure.

Like asbestos fibers, nanotubes are extremely durable and cannot be broken down or expelled by natural body function.

While there is no immediate reason for concern, (most nanotubes are securely adhered within structural compounds) there is certainly justification for further research. Those who may potentially be endangered are those who work in the manufacture of these products as well as those who encounter damaged products.

Incredible Story Of Paul Kraus

What would be more inspiring for mesothelioma patients than listening to the longest mesothelioma survivor in the world? Do you know Paul Kraus? He is the inspiration behind a number of patients with the diagnosis of one of the deadliest forms of cancer called mesothelioma. I have been personally moved by his story.

It was in one those days in June 1997, Paul Kraus was diagnosed with mesothelioma. That has changed his world forever. The cancer was so widespread that he was told there was little hope and that he should go home and get his affairs in order. Fearful and depressed, but not ready to give up, he researched various therapy options. Unlike a number of Paul was not willing to give an unconditional surrender to the one of the most devastating forms of cancer. With the help of his doctors and family, Paul Kraus created his own remarkable path to healing. Today, over nine years later, he continues to enjoy a good quality of life.

"Dr. Andrew Weil wrote that any illness can be conquered through radical lifestyle change because our bodies are made with powerful self-healing capacities. It was hard to make such radical changes, but I was determined to see them through," Paul Kraus said.

During this teleconference, mesothelioma patients and their loved ones can listen to Mr. Kraus summarize his knowledge and insight into this disease. He will discuss how he handled his diagnosis, what he learned about the cancer, and the steps he took to heal his mesothelioma. Subjects include: chemotherapy, surgery, holistic approaches, integrative therapies, vitamins and other supplements, traditional Chinese medicine, mind-body medicine, doctor-patient relationships, and more. Participants can also ask questions of Mr. Kraus and share information and knowledge with each other.